Since around Saint Patrick’s Day, I’ve been in contact fairly often via Instagram with a gentleman who refers himself as The Captain (Instagram @CaptainOfCraft). He was quite persistent to try to convince me to drive out to Visalia in order to write a feature on Pita Kabob — no really, nearly on a weekly basis. I have mad respect for that kind of persistence.
Understandably, it seemed like I was blowing him off. I wasn’t. I was insanely busy and or broke, and I still am, however I find it important to fulfill my promises. Thus, with 10 days prior to my move, I took a private trip south to visit the Pita Kabob gang at the newest location in the heart of Downtown Visalia.
I strolled into the facility around 12:30 p.m. and immediately ordered a Lil B Evil Twin Porter. It was a hard tie between that and Most Premium Gigantic Stout.
I couldn’t get over my love for the industrious yet rustic feel to the gastropub. It was envisioned by Owner, Chafic Dada and executed by Monica Fatica, Co-owner of local Embellish & Restore.
What originally launched as a small Mediterranean restaurant 10 years ago, flourished into a total of three phenomenal local gourmet restaurants with menu items inspired by family recipes.
“When we first started the company there wasn’t any beer, it was a deli with just grocery items,” Dada said. “We slowly evolved into a restaurant.”
Dada opened his second restaurant with 11 taps in 2008, perfect timing for the beginning of the craft beer renaissance.
Three weeks ago during the American Craft Beer Week, Dada launched his baby Pita Kabob Gastropub. It is the first gastropub in Visalia and it can hold a capacity of approximately 180 people. Pita Kabob Gastropub currently serves all of the same made-to-order Mediterranean food from the other restaurant, but Dada plans to make a small dinner menu available too. The Pita Kabob Gastropub bar includes 31 taps which rotate frequently.
“We are going through a lot more beer than we thought we would,” The Captain said.
Additionally, Pita Kabob partnered up with Tioga Sequoia for a special brew on their opening.
“We had them make a Triple Dry Hopped IPA (The Triple) with Citra,” Dada said. “It was inspired by Captain, and Mike Cruz made it happen.”
As some of you know, The Triple was temporarily released on tap at the Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden, however Pita Kabob Gastropub was the only retailer to receive them.
“We have definitely helped to change the way people drink,” Dada said. “We make an effort to go above and beyond and are willing to travel.”
They are selling Oklahoma’s finest craft beer Prairie people — they do not stretch the truth!
“There are a lot of people trying to get onto the craft beer bandwagon right now,” Dada said. “I see a lot of restaurants that are coming up in this area. Don’t be fooled, because they won’t be able to talk to you and bring you the things you really want to try because they are a money-driven aspect only. We are all in this to make make some money, but you have to have a passion for what you do. One of the rules I have is that I will not serve food or beer that I do not like.”
This kind of care is what makes Pita Kabob Gastropub stand out from the crowd. It is a company enriched by integrity, skill and knowledge.
One of The Captain’s roles is to help put some of the events together at two of the restaurants. They do tastings, cask nights and they hope to launch beer dinners, courses and potentially cigar and beer pairings later on.
Here are some of the upcoming events at Pita Kabob Gastropub:
- July 12: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America
- August 23: Stone tap takeover
- September 13: A sour night — expect delightful beers from The Bruery and Almanac
Back to the food! Oh it was so good — so so good. The presentation was great as well as its overall freshness.
For lunch I had a light meal. I enjoyed their chicken skewer with cilantro jalepeno hummus, and then I just happened to spend all day there and had one of their combination plates for dinner.
1) Taboulah Salad (AKA the bowl of green yummy goodness): This was a refreshing bowl of onions, tomato, cilantro, lime juice, a little olive oil and other goodies.
2) Babba Ghanoush (what appears to look like hummus on my plate): This is very similar to hummus, however instead of making essentially a thick paste from chickpeas, it is made with eggplant. It was wonderfully smoky too.
3) Grilled Vegetables
4) Lulu Kabob: A mix of lamb, beef and sausage-like nom noms.
Oh, but the party… I mean feature didn’t stop there. Several of the employees, other beer geeks and myself enjoyed a delightful bottle share afterwards for a few hours.
The Captain and Daniel
“The biggest consensus I get from people in this location is they don’t feel like they are in Visalia,” Dada said. “They feel like they are in the city, San Francisco or in LA somewhere.”
There was a lot beer… I may have stayed a tad longer than I anticipated.
I gotta hand it to them, either I’m not being invited to enough bottle shares in Fresno, or the Pita Kabob team in Visalia handle their craft beer scene a little bit better us. I’m truly impressed by this group of individuals and I look forward to hearing more about Pita Kabob’s future successes.
Pita Kabob Website
All three locations:
Pita Kabob Gastropub 227 N. Court Visalia, CA 93291
Pita Kabob 2226 S. Mooney Blvd. Visalia, CA 93277
Pita Kabob 5101 W. Walnut Ave. Visalia, CA 93277